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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Cloning isn't Enough

My husband of the ever-active intellect (aka Hoosier Gadfly) pointed out something that was obvious once he came up with it -- but I've never heard it discussed before. If you want to make an exact genetic replica of someone, start with the same biochemical building blocks that that person started with, it isn't enough just to clone 'em. You need identical mitochondrial DNA. He suggested inserting the regular (I forget what to call it) DNA in an egg from the person's mother's female line.

That could make it more difficult to clone people who've been gone a while, even if their DNA is somehow preserved. I guess one has to plan ahead and preserve an appropriate egg as well. . . .


Paul Hager said...

Actually, so long as there are living female descenants, there is no real need to plan ahead. The mitochondrial DNA changes fairly slowly and should be essentially unchanged over a large number of generations. This is why analysis of mitochondrial DNA is such an important tool in paleoanthropology.

Thus, if there is a living female descendant of Abe Lincoln's mother and if complete DNA could be extracted from Lincoln's body and placed in a donor egg from the female descendant, Lincoln could be perfectly cloned. If you can clone one, you can clone 100. There's probably a science fiction story here - call it THE BOYS FROM SPRINGFIELD.

Paul Hager said...

ADDENDUM AND CLARIFICATION: A direct female descendant of Abe Lincoln's mother isn't really needed. A female descendant off of Lincoln's mother's matrilineal line will suffice. Thus, if Lincoln's mother's female 5th cousin traced through an unbroken female line back to a common female ancestor, eggs from the 5th cousin's female descendants alive today would be OK.

Let the cloning begin!